Walking on the railroad – 12 September 2021

Today we went for a walk along the old railway from Kirkby Stephen to somewhere else.  A place called Nateby, where the railway path stops and a real steam railway takes over.

Parked at the school in Kirkby Stephen and walked through a closed town.  Nothing open. Well, it was Sunday.

We walked along a path we’d taken last year and using muscle memory as our guide, found our way up on to the path of the railway and along two of the three viaducts and on until we found the third viaduct which our path ran parallel to. We should probably have walked under it to complete the trilogy and take a look at the steam railway, but instead we followed the river downstream through two fields. The second field had disinterested sheep in it. They looked, saw us and went back to eating the grass. At the end of the track we found a totally unintelligible  sign written in legalese which seemed to say that we had to go back. We did what I always do in a situation like this. We followed the path and ignored the sign. If you can’t write English in England then don’t write this gibberish. Found our way back to Kirkby Stephen and from there back to the car.

Back at the house we arrived before the other two and grabbed the garage again.

I was chef for the night and I made the worst paella I’ve made in a long time. Really difficult to make a meal to serve 4 when you’re used to making it for 2. It’s not simply a case of doubling the ingredients. Also, trying to use someone else’s cooker didn’t help. Those are excuses, not reasons. As my dad would have said, Covered Lies. I will make something better next time.

Watched more Spitting Image tonight. Some episodes funnier than others.

PoD was a symphony of greens taken on the walk along the old railway.

Scamp may go looking for a pair of boots tomorrow as hers are hurting her feet.

Brough Castle revisited – 11 September 2021

First day walk about.

We drove into Kirkby Stephen which is the nearest town and parked at the main carpark beside the auction mart. Carpark was really busy, even for a Saturday, but we found a space. The church bells were ringing and we assumed it was a wedding. Lots of well dressed people heading for the church and that’s what initially gave Scamp the inkling that it wasn’t a wedding. They weren’t dressed for a wedding apparently. It turned out it was it was a memorial for a woman called Joan Johnstone who was an important local Councillor.

We walked over Frank’s Bridge. Not a clue who Frank was, then around the cricket pitch looking for the path to take us up to the viewpoint on the hill which sort of overlooks the town. Eventually found that I’d led us the wrong way. How strange! 😏. We walked back, but couldn’t find any place to have lunch. Everywhere was full or closed. Presumably so the owners could get to the memorial service. Scamp got ten allium bulbs from the same shop we bought last year’s bulbs from and they turned out so well. With that done we chose to drive to Brough to see if it was open today.

Brough wasn’t nearly as big as Kirkby Stephen. It seemed to comprise of two streets at right angles to each other and a whole host of scarecrows. Lots of the houses had these, sometimes creepy, statues outside. We didn’t stop, but we did find a sign pointing to Brough Castle which we’d visited many years ago. When we stopped there on the way home from a visit down south we had lunch at the tea shop there and today we were happy to see it was still there. There were loads of scarecrows in the surrounding streets too, but not as creepy as the ones in Brough. After coffee and a warm, but not hot, panini each we went for a walk round the castle. The views from it were excellent and all under a blue sky with bubbly clouds too. I took lots of photos and so did Scamp. We walked round the village next and took in the Scarecrow Festival, because that’s what it was.

PoD was a view of Brough Castle with a few sheep and a horse to fill up that empty green space.

Jamie and Simonne were cooking tonight. Beetroot falafels with a green salad – we must try that.

Watched the strange new qualifying for F1 tonight understood it a bit more than last time.  Then we watched a few episodes of Spitting Image which was repeats on Britbox and therefore slightly out of sync with life in 2021, but still funny.

Tomorrow we may go for a longer walk along the viaduct path.

 

Driving – 10 September 2021

Feeling a lot better this morning. No sign of yesterday’s Lurgi.

We got in the car and drove to the petrol station to buy some extremely expensive petrol that only had 5% of Ethanol in it. Better the devil you know when you’re on a fairly long journey, carrying half a tonne of stuff.

Drove out of the petrol station, still smarting from the expense and joined the M80 heading in the general direction of Glasgow. Merged on to the M73 which in turn merged on to the M74. Drove sedately past the roadworks at Hamilton that are due to finish in October (year not stated), watching the train of cars, vans and lorries on the other carriageway, a train that went on and on and on. Made a mental note to exit the motorway at Canderside on our return journey and not be caught in a stramash like this.

After a hundred miles or so, Scotland became England and the M74 became the M6. Exited at Penrith and then it was on to the smaller A66. Just before the exit, the Start/Stop app in the car signalled a System Failure. This had happened before and I reported it to Nissan at the service a week ago. I was told then that the Start/Stop “… Checks a lot of parameters …” Which was technospeak for “It just does that, we can’t fix it”. Another Nissan failure on an otherwise great car.

Not long after we left the outskirts of Penrith, we were on a stretch of road which should have been dual carriageway, but was under repair, so it became a slow moving single carriageway. Just after what seemed like an hour, but was probably a lot less, we took the turn off that eventually led through narrower and narrower roads to the house. Actually overshot it, but Scamp noticed and we arrived. First to arrive again!

Cup of tea on the patio and a quick Foxtrot along the paving stones. I’ll bet that’s the first time anyone had danced a Foxtrot along that patio! Jamie and Sim weren’t far behind us, having left home long before us. Their’s a six hour journey and ours only about two. The world is ill divided.

PoD was to confirm that roses, even in England, have the same beasties we have up north. Honest, we didn’t bring them with us.
Scamp made Chicken Cacciatore for dinner and we all sat round the table, talked and ate.

Tomorrow we’re going exploring.

Stones – 22 July 2021

We were travelling into history today, our history.

Years ago we often drove down to the lakes for a long weekend when school permitted. Sometimes to Ambleside and sometimes Grasmere. Once when we were there we noticed an appeal for money to repair an old church in Grasmere that needed a new roof. If you paid a sum of money, can’t remember how much, you could have a paving stone engraved with your name laid on a path in a new garden near the church. We made the donation and got our stone laid, but when we went to see it, the path was only part completed. It seemed a shame to come all this way this year and not search for our stone in the garden in Grasmere. That’s where we headed today.

We knew it would be a long journey, but we hadn’t realised just how steep some of those climbs and descents would be. One descent in particular was 25%! We were just starting it when a girl on a road bike was cresting the rise, hardly out of breath. I admired her stamina getting up there. It wasn’t the most fun drive I’ve ever had and I’m sure Scamp wasn’t all that happy either, but we got there.

Grasmere was a lot busier than I remember it. Every car park seemed crammed full. However there was a notice on the exit of one that pointed to a new car park. We found it and it was nearly empty, I presume because it was on the far edge of the village. Didn’t matter, we were parked. There was a long queue to pay for a ticket, because everyone uses plastic these days and this machine didn’t seem to like that. It was rejecting cards right left and centre. I offered to try my luck with cash and four quid lighter I had my parking ticket for three hours. So, there was nothing wrong with the machine, it just didn’t like plastic!

We walked along a path beside the river and saw one of Mr Grey’s distant relatives fishing in one of the pools. The path came out just at the church and beside the church was the new garden, the Daffodil Garden, and the paving stones. The search was on.

Scamp was off like a shot and of course it was her who found the stone. Just as we remembered it. The entire path was finished now, all 3,000 of them. That’s a lot of money raised. After we’d photographed each other standing next to the stone, we left the garden to the others who were reading the names. The repairs to the church are still ongoing, but a lot has been done with the money.

We had lunch in a wee tearoom we used to sit in. Looked much the same as it did all those years ago. The couple who owned and ran it then have only recently sold it.

Scamp remembered another road home that didn’t involve climbing that 25% hill. I think it might have given the wee blue car a heart attack climbing it.

Back at the house it was an early dinner to allow JIC and Sim to get on the road. This was Neil D’s turn as chef again and it was Fried Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Beans. There was yet another group photo and a few tears when JIC and Sim took their leave.

I went for a last walk along the road and got a few landscape photos in the beautiful evening light. I think they are some of my favourite photos of the week. Back at the house I tried again for some shots of the moon, but none of them worked very well. One of the landscapes became PoD.

Tomorrow is the day we all dread. Packing up and going home.

Rosemary from the garden – 21 July 2021

Scamp wanted milk Sim wanted tonic JIC wanted rosemary, fresh preferably.

We drove down to Millom by the ‘high road’ which the sat nav doesn’t understand. Too small a road and with no road number. Once there we went to Tesco. Got the milk and some other stuff but no elderflower tonic to be found and no fresh rosemary.

Drove down to Broughton and parked down near the livestock market, then found the wee deli where we’d got the cherries earlier in the week. Woman said there might be rosemary in the chiller cabinet in the back of the shop. The guy who was serving went to look said if there wasn’t any there, he’s cut us a couple of sprigs from the garden. That’s good service. Scamp bought two bottles of wine and one of gin.

Came out and decided it was far too warm to walk anywhere, even through the avenue of trees to the pools we’d found a couple of days ago. Just came home by the new road and stopped at the bridge just before the zig zag through the farm. I realise that means nothing to everyone except those who have driven that narrow road. Got a few photos there of a couple wee cottages that stand by the side of a river, half covered by a stand of trees. One of those photos. Back in the car I though “Isn’t air-con a wonderful thing”!

Spent the rest of the day lounging around. Jamie made Fish with Carrot Chips and I made Cheesy Tear & Share bread. JIC and Sim are leaving tomorrow night. They have business to attend to at home and also it will be cooler driving in the evening.

I took some moody shots of the moon which was looking good tonight, but the midges were busy again so I didn’t linger.

May go looking for stones tomorrow.

Cars on the rooftop – 19 July 2021

Today we went to Broughton in Furness to see what was there.

We parked in the village square and walked down the Main Street. There wasn’t a lot to see, it looked like a sleepy little market town. One busy pub on a corner, as most pubs seem to be, especially old ones. It was earmarked for a visit later.

We walked further down the hill away from the retail centre and found a petrol station/garage with an interesting display of what looked like old pedal cars on its roof. Further still down the hill there was a sign pointing down an avenue of trees to a woodland walk and ponds. We agreed that we should investigate.

The path ran straight for as far as we could see with the back gardens of houses on both sides for the first 100m or so. The ones on the right were well manicured, while some of the ones on the left were a bit overgrown, but looked as if they had been well maintained in the past with vegetable plots laid out neatly below the weeds. Others, of course were pristine. Best of all, near the path was a community garden with a sign saying that everything was free to a good home. I suppose that’s what you expect in a small rural community.

We walked for a mile or so along the path and found the ponds, two of them. The first one was almost dried up with little sign of life, but further on was the second pond. This one had a bit more shelter from the sun and near the edge I could see what I think were dace feeding in the shallows. Also a few ducks, mallards, soaking up the rays on the pebbly shore.

The woodland walk and the ponds were part of Broughton Tower estate and private property, but with access allowed to the public. There was a large area of grassland with paths leading up to the Big House which we glimpsed through the trees, but didn’t investigate because we were walking back along the path and out into Broughton again.

We found a street running parallel to the Main Street with a neat little deli at the end where Scamp bought some lovely fat cherries and I got a pack of dates which I intend to eat this time, instead of keeping them in the fridge!

By this time it was definitely Beer o’ Clock, so we took a seat at the pub we’d noticed earlier and Scamp had a half pint of lager and I had a half pint of very dry stout. I wish I’d remembered the name of the stout, because it was just excellent. If we ever go back to this area again I’ll search it out.

Took a wrong turning heading out of the town and ended up on narrower and narrower roads, then the sat nav pulled us out of trouble again and got us on the right road. Halfway along the narrow wee road to the house we came on a traffic jam. A car and a van were blocking the road trying to do the “two into one won’t go” trick and neither were willing to give ground. Eventually the car driver who was at the front of our line of vehicles, reversed, down the wrong side of the road, ending up in a ditch. That allowed the van to wriggle through the gap and the rest of our line of cars and vans to pass. I don’t know when or how the car driver got out of the ditch, but nobody was stopping to help him/her.

Later in the day I went for a walk along our narrow road and got a few photos of flowers and landscapes in the low afternoon sun. The harebells got PoD.

JIC was chef tonight Turkey Parmagiano which was delicious and will be added to our own list of things to try. It was their standard Monday dinner, just as our Monday dinner is Pasta with either a Tomato or Carbonara sauce.

I attempted a Milky Way photoshoot when the sky looked dark enough, but it wasn’t a great success. I think Photopills may be right when it seemed to indicate that the Milky Way wasn’t visible from our global position at this time. Anyway, the midges were definitely visible and biting!

Tomorrow we may go sailing!

 

Exploring – 16 June 2021

Today we were off exploring the East Neuk of Fife.

We drove south from St Andrews on the coast road, like real tourists. We were just passing through Kingsbarns which is really a posh hotel and a golf course with some houses attached, when I noticed a sign for Cambo House. We’d been there many years ago to see the snowdrops that it’s famous for, great swathes of them as I remember it. No snowdrops today, but at least there was a decent amount of parking.

We walked from the carpark to what I thought must be the House and paid our entrance fee that was really the entrance to the walled garden. If I’d been more observant, I might have decided not to shell out a few quid just to see a walled garden. There’s one in Colzium that’s really well laid out and free. But, Scamp likes gardens of all descriptions and also we’d paid our money so we went to see the gardens.

What a garden this was, not the manicured garden like Colzium. No neat borders with carefully labeled plants. This was a real garden with plants of all descriptions everywhere. Herbs, roses, herbaceous, veg patches, fruit trees, in fact everything that we’ve got in our garden, including a knowledgeable gardener which we also have in Scamp! We wandered round and I took loads of photos. Glad I’d brought the macro lens today. We found a strange plant with pink fluffy flowers and aquilegia-like leaves. We asked the gardener what it was and I showed her a photo of it, but she dismissed it as “not a very good photo”! Cheek! However, she laughed, so I didn’t take too much offence. She knew what the plant was, but couldn’t quite remember the name of it. She was a volunteer gardener and said the head gardener would know. We stood talking to her for a while comparing this garden with its dry, light soil with our builders rubble that’s covered by a thin layer of topsoil that turns into a swamp every time it rains. After that we left to see what else we could find.

We walked out of the garden and down the path to the beach. That’s when we saw Cambo House. It’s an impressive Big House set in acres of lawns. Private, of course, but if you’ve got a house like that, you want to keep it good and not let the proles in. It was Scamp who saw the robot lawnmower trundling around the garden in what seemed like random directions. We stood watching it for a while before we continued our walk down beside a wee burn on a path that reminded me for the second time of Colzium with the winding path beside the Colzium Burn. I saw a beautiful spread of bright red poppies as we neared the beach and managed to make a panorama of it back at the caravan. The poppies reminded me of summer holidays in East Lothian where they seemed to grow in all the barley fields around Ormiston.

The beach itself was a bit like any other with a path between it and the Kingsbarns golf course. There seems to be a never-ending succession of golf courses along this part of the Fife coast. After a walk along the beach, we turned and walked back on the path, then found an easier path back past the Big House to what must have been farm buildings that housed the shop and the cafe. We had intended having a coffee and a bite to eat, but there were no tables, all socially distanced around the courtyard. We decided we’d continue our exploration and see if Crail or Anstruther had anything better to offer. At least we’d be able to get something to eat there.

Crail was a disaster for parking. We did find a place down by the harbour, but all the narrow streets were clogged with cars parked on both sides of the road so we headed off to Anstruther. It turned out to be even more disappointing. No places in the carparks and a similar congestion. Why don’t we go back to Cambo and see if there are any tables free now. We did and there were. We had a slice of excellent Tortilla each and a cup of coffee to go with it, plus a Portuguese custard tart to share. Even better, we wandered round the shop and found the pink fluffy plant we’d seen, so we bought it. It’s a Thalictrum Aquilegiifolium. Feeling much happier than the last time we exited Cambo a couple of hours before, we drove back to the caravan.

Tonight we thought we’d walk in to town and have dinner in Little Italy which came recommended. Yesterday we had thought to have lunch there. The sign said open 12.30 until Late and it was about 4pm, so it should be fine. Unfortunately when we asked for a table we were told they were closed. There were people still sitting at tables, but they were closed. Maybe 4pm is late in St Andrews. Today we were refused entry again. This time, allegedly, the restaurant was fully booked. Have you ever had the feeling that your face doesn’t fit? Instead we found ourselves standing outside a pizza restaurant when a Canadian drawl behind us said “You won’t be disappointed”. As I turned round I honestly thought it was Shannon from salsa. It wasn’t, but she was right, we weren’t disappointed. The restaurant looked very like Paesano. The menu was in a similar style and even the pizzas were familiar looking. I’m glad we didn’t get in to LI. This was much better all round. It was called Mozza. If your ever in St Andrews, try it out. You won’t be disappointed.

Walked back to the caravan via the harbour. Walked along the harbour wall and watched some teenagers jumping into the water. Posh english teenagers probably from one of the private schools.

Sat and watched the sun go down with a couple of G&Ts out on the decking of the caravan.

Off to Fife – 15 June 2021

St Andrews to be more precise, where we were hoping that yesterdays keys (Remember them?) would open a door to a new experience.

After a tedious drive through a thousand little villages, each with their own 30mph signs, behind one of the slowest Sainsbury’s artics in the western world, we found a motorway. We were only on it for about 10 miles, if that, but that was enough to leave the Sainsbury’s leviathan in our dust. Then it was back to the grind of another thousand even smaller villages and roadworks before the sat nav took us away at 90º to our expected trajectory, only to bring us back almost to that same road we’d left. Later I worked out that it was indeed a smart little piece of technology that had avoided making us drive through the tortuous streets and alleys of St Andrews itself and dropped us at the front door of the caravan park. Sometimes you just have to follow the sat nav blindly and hope it know where it’s going. Other times it helps to swear at it for a while. Today I did the latter, but agreed that the former would have been better.

We found the caravan and after a bit of a panic, worked out how to open the gate that led to the fenced off decking area and from there to the door. We were just discussing caravans this morning, before we left home and agreed that the last time we’d been to a caravan was probably back in the summer of 1984 when Scamp had organised a holiday in a caravan at Saltcoats. I’d just graduated as a teacher from Jordanhill and we all needed a holiday. I can’t remember much about the caravan, but I do recall it being a bit rudimentary. That’s not a criticism you could honestly level at this caravan. This is really quite luxurious. We’re not buying it, just borrowing it for a few day from one of Scamp’s friends.

The caravan site is perched on a hill above one of the beaches and right next to one of the lesser golf courses. Oh, how Charlie would have loved it! After we had settled down, found everything and made the bed, we walked in to town. Scamp had been here last summer and knew how to get into town. I just remembered driving here many years ago and trying to find a parking place and then, later, trying to remember where that parking place was! It’s so much easier on foot when you know where you’ve left the car. After wandering round the streets for a while we eventually went to a BrewDog bar for a late lunch. Scamp had a rather spicy Cajun chicken burger and I had a beef burger with bacon and cheese. Both were delicious and washed down with a Schooner of Elvis Juice each. The bar had been almost empty when we arrived, but by the time we left, two different Hen Parties had arrived and the quiet bar became a noisy, good natured rabble.

We walked back past the harbour and along the edge of the beach. We sat watching folk learning to paddle kayaks in the sea. Further along we found a group of ladies and one man going wild swimming in the sea. Back at the caravan we sat for a while in the sun on the decking a gin and tonic … or two!

PoD was a wee line of flowers on the wall of St Andrews harbour.

Yes, it was very kind of Annette lending us this caravan for a few days. Tomorrow we may go exploring.

Out for a spin – 27 May 2021

We spun our way over to Fife and parked ourselves in Kirkcaldy.

Walked out towards the old Seafield Tower. A ruined tower that dates from the 16th century. It’s in a poor state these days with notices telling all and sundry that it’s a dangerous site and you must keep out. We kept out today. We’ve wandered round it in the past, but it looks as if we won’t be walking round its ancient walls again. It looks precarious. From there we wandered on to look for the seals that loll about the rocks not far from the shoreline. It took us a while to see them, but they were there looking for all the world like big fat slugs. They may be beautiful creatures in the water, but out of it they look pretty ugly to me.

We climbed a bit further until we reached the part where the path drops down at some steps to run alongside the railway line. We’ve walked along this part of the path before and it’s not very scenic, so I had to be satisfied with taking a few shots of the view across the Forth to Edinburgh and East Lothian.

On the way back to the car, and just before we reached the Tower, I saw a patch of Teasels growing wild in the grass. I used them to frame a view of the tower, then decided that, actually they made a more interesting subject than the tower, so reframed, refocused and produced what was to become PoD.

Back at the car, Scamp had been thoughtful enough to pack a flask of hot water and some picnic food. We sat for half an hour taking in the views of the beach and the remains of the breakwater from when there was a coal mine where an estate of new houses now stand. I wonder if half of those folk knew what was under their foundations when they bought their sparkling new dream house. The seams of coal that was mined at Seafield reputedly ran for miles under the Forth.

After a beautiful day in Fife with wall to wall blue skies, we drove back to dull grey skies over Cumbersheugh. It was a good decision to get up and go early for a change and an even better idea to go east rather than west.

Topic to draw today was An Extension Cable. It may not be the most exciting subject, but it was what was asked for and I’ve drawn one of our four gang, three pin, switched UK extension cables. A must for any house built before about 2000. Modern houses have more wall sockets, even then, there are never enough of them. The drawing was good fun to produce, once I’d worked out the perspective.

Tomorrow there are no plans as far as I’m concerned. As usual, it’s weather dependent.

Off on our travels again – 19 May 2021

Another beautiful morning. Scamp suggested we do the ascent of Barr Hill or drive to Dunfermline for lunch. I thought if we went to Dunfermline I might get a chance to play with try out my 6 stop ND filter at Torryburn on the way home. That seemed to meet with her approval, so I bundled two cameras in the car (the tripod was already there) and off we went.

Parked at Pittencrieff Park and with the Oly in its old brown bag slung over my shoulder and the tripod left to look after the Sony in the car, we walked over the park. Trees were beautiful carrying a full head of blossom. We walked down past the big glasshouse which was locked as expected due to Covid restrictions and round the formal garden which looked well maintained although hardly any of the flowers were blooming. Just too early in the year for that. Lots of primary kids on activities week running races and having shouting matches in the big empty spaces of the park. Two folk were doing a meditation under a bit tree. I don’t know what kind of tree it was, we weren’t close enough to do an ID, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Bo tree!

We walked over to the aviary and found one shy peacock that would strut along the outside of the fenced enclosure, take a look at us and hurry back. It did this three or four times. All the peacocks and peahens had names and identity rings on their legs. Two old guys were discussing them as if they were family members or friends they met at the pub. Today’s PoD came from there and was just a lucky shot, catching the bird with that “What you think you’re looking at?” look on its face. We said goodbye to the peacocks and the peahens and headed into town. We went in to Nero and I had the best coffee I’ve tasted (except my own) for about a year or more. After the first wave of the pandemic, Nero started selling coffee in takeaway cardboard cups and seemed determined to fill the cups to the brim, diluting the coffee so much it was undrinkable. Today’s coffee, while not up to my or JIC’s standards was certainly a much more palatable drink than those watery waste of taste cups from last year. Even better, the coffees were served in real cups. Surely a sign that things are returning to normal.

We both wanted to get a cheap Hoodie, just to keep in the car for emergencies. Right next door to Nero was Primark. Less than £20 for two hoodies seemed like a bargain. They’re not top quality, but they will serve the purpose they were bought for. We walked back to the car, not stopping to count the boarded up shops that won’t open again for some time. Some shops that have been in the town for years have now disappeared. That’s sad. Dunfermline was a bit of a ghost town before Covid hit, but not even the ghosts have gone, it seems. Maybe it will rise from the ashes, but it might take some time.

Drove back via Torryburn where I was hoping for high tide, some heavy clouds and a bit wave movement. Unfortunately, the tide was right out, the sun was shining and you couldn’t even see any waves. We didn’t even get out of the car, we just drove home.

Stopped at Tesco to get yet another birthday card (count back 9 months from mid May and that might give a clue to the reason for those births 😉). Scamp got herself a pair of leisure trousers.

Scamp had bought me a tray of Calabrese yesterday, so when we got back I planted a row of them in the raised bed and watered them in. I don’t really think they will need watered, because we’re due some heavy rain tomorrow. I also completed today’s prompt which is “The View From Your Window” That was tough. I’m not totally happy with the result, but it’s finished and it’s uploaded now, so I’ve completed today’s challenge.

Tomorrow, because of the weather forecast, I think we might go for a drive if we’re going out at all. I don’t think a walk will be on the cards.